St. John Tradewinds News

VIRC&D To Assess Coral Bay Storm Water Retention Ponds

Proposed stormwater retention ponds should alleviate sediment runoff into Coral Bay harbor, above, during heavy rains.

During every heavy rain, guts across Coral Bay fill with muddy water and Coral Bay harbor turns brown with the sediment-filled runoff of non-point source pollution and the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC) is taking a first step to stem the tide of sedimentation.

The V.I. Resource Conservation and Develop-ment Council (VIRC&D) accepted a CBCC request for a Coral Bay Storm Water Pond project. Within the next few months, VIRC&D officials will work closely with CBCC members and United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service officials to conduct a rapid watershed assessment.

Determine Possible Locations
The assessment will detail potential locations for storm water retention ponds in the Coral Bay area, which will settle sediment-filled runoff before it reaches the harbor, according to Sharon Coldren, CBCC president.

“Local and federal storm water regulations are not adequate to deal with steep-slope runoff which has settled in the flat land,” she said. “No regulations insist on the natural function on that land to slow down and contain the sediment. It is a serious regulation gap.”

VIRC&D officials will identify appropriate places for a storm water pond, Coldren added.

“Federally-funded staff will supply technological and engineering advice to us in the next few months,” she said.

Agriculture Potential
Part of the project is aimed at improving agriculture potential in the Coral Bay area, Coldren explained.

“This grant also relates to agricultural purposes,” she said. “We have some topographical information and have selected potential sites based on contour and gut runoff. Now, we need to identify potential agriculture improvements, including water for irrigation and livestock.”

First Phase of Project
The assessment is the first phase of the project. Phase two will include the pond design and production of construction plans and specifications, followed by the pond installation.

The Coral Bay storm water project is an example of a proactive approach to solving pollution problems, according to Coldren. “This is a good example of what can be done,” she said. “This project can reactivate the wetlands and save the bay. We’ve got to stop the polluted runoff.”

CBCC officials welcome the public’s input on this program, the CBCC president added.

Coldren and other CBCC board members can be reached at 776-2099.